Meet Our Teachers–Rachel Buddeberg
We’re happy to welcome Rachel Buddeberg next week (on Thursday, September 18) for her workshop on Self-Empowerment for Singles; she has been interviewed in the Psychology Today column Living Single, whose author Bella DeCarlo PhD is a noted explorer of issues surrounding the single life. I asked Rachel, whom DeCarlo calls a “single-minded change agent,” a few questions about living a good and satisfying uncoupled life. –Carol Queen
CQ: In your Psychology Today interview with Bella DePaulo you mention your own experience of realizing you were actually happier when you were single (compared to your feelings while in a relationship). Would you say a bit more about that, maybe not just about your own experience, but about the things you hear from other single people?
RB: My views on this have become more refined as I now think that it is more important to look beyond the single-couple dichotomy. Many of us can thrive more when we are in relationships with other people. However, how these relationships look like is important. I advocate that we design our own relationships rather than follow the cultural standard of a coupled relationship. For example, I have friends with whom I have built more intimate relationships as is usual for friendships – across the spectrum of intimacy. To me, it is more important that the relationships reflect what helps us live happier than that they fall into either of the single or coupled category.
CQ: In your view, why does contemporary culture, which allows for so many relationship styles, continue to emphasize coupling up? What is it that couplehood promises us, culturally, and how do you think it can fail to deliver?
RB: The type of relationship styles allowed by culture seems to be rather limited – and most of these relationships are compared to the gold standard of the couple. Couplehood is presented – in movies for example – as the goal of adulthood. And even if we have long-term, deep friendships, we are not quite considered fully matured. The other aspect of this are the promises that come with coupling. The One is presented as the mate who will meet all of our needs all the time. Clearly that is impossible for any one human being, though even when we scale this down to something more realistic, we might limit ourselves. It seems this myth is so strong, especially in the US, that people who have tried out marriage, the holy grail of couplehood, and didn’t like it try it again. Instead of changing the way we relate, we think we just have to change the spouse… Maybe if we could think beyond the couple, many marriages could continue to function because spouses could meet some of their needs with other people.
CQ: Can you say a bit about sexuality and singlehood? People often seek a “special someone” hoping they’ll have a lover for life and feeling that all of the alternatives will fail to satisfy them sexually, not just emotionally. What do you say about that?
RB: Being sexual and single can be challenging, possibly the most challenging aspect of being single. Again, though, it’s important to separate myth from reality. First, just because we are coupled does not guarantee a satisfying sex life (as many a coupled person will attest to). Not to mention that a couple might not be together for life… Then, there are alternatives – from celibacy to solo sex via toys to relationships designed around sexual needs – that might work as well or even better for many people. As I will go into in more detail in the workshop, it is important to see how we limit ourselves when we think there is only one way to meet a need.
CQ: If someone wants to know more about you, do you have a website or other resources for them?
RB: Yes! They can check out my website at www.yourlifeisagarden.com
Self-Empowerment, Especially for Singles
Thursday, September 18, 6:30-8:30pm
$20 in advance, $25 at the door
Join empowerment coach Rachel Buddeberg to explore the impact of two newly researched stereotypes, singlism and couplemania––cultural messages suggesting we’ll be happier, healthier, and wealthier if only we could find that “special someone.” It’s not necessarily so! Putting all of our energy into one relationship can lead to overly high expectations, downplaying the importance of our other relationships, and leave us feeling like second-class citizens if we remain single. This workshop is designed to empower people, especially singles, to look beyond these messages and learn to enrich our lives. We will practice powerful tools to counteract these messages. You will leave this workshop with renewed confidence to choose to be single for as short or long as you want to be, the ability to diffuse cultural messages that cause distress, and start to heal the impact they’ve had on your life!